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New and Notable Christian Books for September

This time of year is usually a very good one for book releases as publishers attempt to make sure their top titles are available for the holiday shopping season. Here are some of my picks for New and Notable books from September (including a handful from August since I didn’t provide a roundup last month). In each case I’ve provided the publisher’s description of the book.

Church History by Simonetta Carr. “Church History is a fascinating guide that shows young readers (and even not-so-young readers) how God has preserved His church from AD 30 to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Travel through time and all over the world as you meet the people, learn about the ideas, and understand the challenges that have shaped the history of the church. Maps, time lines, and colorful pictures on every page show you the important people, places, and events of church history. Learn about how Christianity spread to Armenia, the first official Christian nation; how a paper nailed to a church door in Germany marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation; how the church has grown in places like Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Discover how the church has answered important questions like Is Jesus really God? Can we be perfect in this life? May Christians allow slavery? and What is the gospel? Most importantly, you will see that after two thousand years, Jesus’s church is still growing and proclaiming the good news of salvation for sinners all over the world.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Workers for Your Joy: The Call of Christ on Christian Leaders by David Mathis. “We live in an age increasingly cynical about leadership—some of it for good reason, much of it simply the mood of our times. Still, the risen Christ continues the counter-cultural work he’s done for two millennia: he appoints leaders in his church—not as a burden, but as a gift to his people. What is the nature, calling, and work of local church leadership? Pastor and seminary professor David Mathis considers the elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 not only as prerequisites but as daily necessities to carry out joyfully. This accessible guide aims to serve current and aspiring pastors and elders, as well as church members who want to know the expectations for their leaders and how to pray for them.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Confronting Jesus: 9 Encounters with the Hero of the Gospels by Rebecca McLaughlin. “Jesus is the most famous human being in all of history. But while many people have a basic sketch of Jesus in their minds, comparatively few have taken time to read the four biographies of his life in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Confronting Jesus, Rebecca McLaughlin shares important biblical context to help all readers see why the Gospels should be taken seriously as historical documents. This follow-up to her first book, Confronting Christianity, helps readers understand the message of the Gospels and explore who Jesus really is. Individuals and groups can work through the book together with the Confronting Jesus Study Guide and the Confronting Jesus Video Study.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Following Jesus in a Digital Age by Jason Thacker. “We were told technology would make our lives easier and more convenient, but technology just seems to have made it more complicated and confusing. As Christians, what does our faith have to do with these pressing issues of life in a digital age? In Following Jesus in a Digital Age, you will not only be challenged on how technology is shaping your walk with Christ, but you will also be equipped with biblical wisdom to navigate the most difficult aspects of our digital culture—including the rise of misinformation, conspiracy theories, social media, digital privacy, and polarization. God calls his people to step into the challenges of the digital age from a place of hope and discernment, grounded in His Word. How will you follow Him in the digital age?” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison. “It’s easy to lose heart in a world where many things can and do go wrong. Life is difficult and there are struggles within and without, but we can take heart–the Lord is with us. He hears our cries for mercy. He knows our every need. He guides us, helps us, and strengthens us with his mighty right arm. Journey through a year with David Powlison, learning to take heart by meditating on his favorite Scripture passages, hymns, and biblical themes, exploring the ways God meets us with daily grace right where we live. Drawn from David Powlison’s many decades of writing, teaching, and speaking, Take Heart is a yearlong devotional journey into the process of biblical change, where truth becomes clearer and our ears hear and our eyes see what God tells us about himself.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Truth for Life: 365 Daily Devotions (Volume 2) by Alistair Begg. This is the second (and, to my knowledge, final) volume of Alistair Begg’s excellent daily devotions. “Start with the gospel each and every day with this second volume of 365 Christ-centered daily devotions from renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg. Each daily devotion includes: reflections from renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg; prompts for real-life application; relevant Scripture passages; a yearly Bible-reading plan. The durable hardback cover with dust jacket and ribbon marker make this a wonderful gift.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Fruitful Theology: How the Life of the Mind Leads to the Life of the Soul by Ronni Kurtz. “Why do the theologians rage? Even a cursory scrolling of social media may lead you to the conclusion that you have to be angry to do theology. Sadly, our day is characterized by theological fighting–complete with harsh words, exaggeration, biting sarcasm, and the spirit of tearing down our brothers and sisters in Christ. But it does not have to be this way. In fact, it should not be this way. In Fruitful Theology, Ronni Kurtz swims upstream to counter this prevailing problem. Instead of theology leading to anger, division, and discord, this book shows that the life of the mind can actually lead to the fruit of the Spirit.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Alongside Jesus: Devotions for Teenagers by Drew Hill. “Have you ever considered that Jesus could actually be walking alongside you? Like right now, in this very moment–even though you can’t see him. If you knew that for sure, how would it change your day? Your life? Because you can’t see or hear Jesus with your physical eyes and ears, walking with him takes a different kind of seeing and hearing. And as you learn to walk with him, your faith will grow, and your life will never be the same. Through a month of meditations, Drew Hill invites you to look for Jesus with the eyes of your heart and learn to hear his voice. As you encounter Jesus, you will begin to see yourself through his eyes. The Alongside Devotional uses a daily devotional format, and each chapter takes a look at a different truth about Jesus and invites you to establish an Alongside Practice that will help solidify this truth in your heart. Each week includes a weekend conversation with your Alongsider–a parent, mentor, or friend who can help you process what you’re reading. These encounters with Jesus will help you see that Jesus is closer than anyone else could ever be.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Unwavering Pastor: Leading the Church with Grace in Divisive Times by Jonathan Dodson. “Leadership is hard. Pastoring through divisive times is even harder. How do we lead well when criticized? How do we keep loving the church when hurt by her? What does it look like to remain committed to the gospel in cultural division? Seasoned pastor Jonathan Dodson comes alongside struggling pastors and ministry leaders to guide them into the comfort of Christ. But he doesn’t stop there. Full of wisdom drawn from 2 Timothy, this book will equip you to lead the church with grace, charity and spiritual power through divisive times. Great for pastors and ministry leaders who need encouragement and insight, or are wrestling with their calling. Makes a thoughtful gift.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Faith Undaunted: Embracing Faith and Knowledge in a Post-Truth Era by Donald MacLeod. “Christian faith is a matter for the emotions, but also a matter for the intellect. Donald MacLeod delves into not only what he believes, but why he believes, and how that belief affects how he lives his life. Arguing for the importance of reason and logic in personal faith, he equips the reader to resist relativist influences that are permeating the twenty-first-century church. Winsomely written, Professor MacLeod shows once again why he is a beloved teacher and writer.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Pastoral Friendship: The Forgotten Piece in a Persevering Ministry by Brian Croft, Michael Haykin, and James Carroll. “Friendship is a need that touches the deepest parts of the human soul. This is especially true in ministry. It is a need that is not simply rooted in enjoyment and companionship, but in the necessity to care well of one’s soul and survive a long-term ministry. This book seeks to persuade every modern pastor of the essential need of friendship. And not just any friendship, but a close, personal, intimate, and sacrificial pastor-to-pastor friendship that regularly turns each other’s gaze to Jesus. Friends and pastors, Michael Haykin, Brian Croft and James Carroll examine portraits of friendship in scripture and church history, before exhorting readers to modern pastoral friendships.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Only When It’s Dark Can We See the Stars: A Father’s Journal as His Son Battles Cancer by John van Popta. John is a dear friend to my family and, in this book, he traces his son’s long illness. “Four Long Years: That’s the time from 12-year-old Julian’s diagnosis of leukemia until the van Popta family reaches the other side. All the while, dad kept a log chronicling in detail the arduous ordeal. Is there hope in the pitch-dark Valley of Baca? With his journal, you can travel with these pilgrims on their journey. Since John is sharing his entries with extended family, friends and church members, you hear him reporting and reflecting as a pastor. He had encountered similar situations before, but such experience counts for little compared to facing cancer of a loved one firsthand. So you also sense how a father’s heart aches as his son suffers. And how he wrestles with wounded faith.” (Buy it at Amazon)


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